Groups Discussion in progress with faculty as panellist

German Companies Strive for Intercultural Competences

The Key Element of the IGTC DHBW International Exchange Programme

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu! The first step of the compact and intensive 12 day International Student Exchange Programme titled “Business Environment India” and “Business Environment Germany” between IGTC and the Duale Hochschule Baden-Wuerttemberg (DHBW) was taken in in 2012, when it was conceptualised and put into motion. And ever since than the programme has transformed from steps to an “Autobahn” where the miles are just flying by! Or use swallowed up?

The objective of this international exchange programme was very simple – to give the IGTC and DHBW students an opportunity to gain an exposure to all aspects of each other’s country – be it in the field of education, culture, social and business life, industry and corporate work etiquettes and lifestyle. But today it has evolved into a much more important knowledge sharing aspect – imparting “intercultural competency and sensitivity”.

The importance of this aspect was reconfirmed by Prof. Dr. Bernhard Herold, Head of Department, Business & Commerce Management, DHBW while referring to the main reason for this year’s student’s participation in “Business Environment India” programme: “Our delegation primarily consist of students who have been encouraged and motivated by their training companies to take part in this unique IGTC organized “Business Environment India” exchange programme. This is mainly due to the fact that most their companies have a global presence in some form or the other including in India. And secondly, intercultural competency/sensitivity is a big topic back in corporate Germany”.

The 5th exchange programme took place from 9th to 18th January 2017. It consisted of 25 students and 2 faculty members; Prof. Dr. Birgit Franken, Professor being the second one. The programme consisted of industry visits to Tech Mahindra, DHL India, Haefele , Tata Motors, Bajaj (both in Pune), Crawford Market and Dharavi.  They got a glimpse of “German” activities during their interactive sessions at the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) , the  German Consulate and the German School . There were Guest Lectures on Logistic & Supply Chain Management along with a live demonstration by  a Dabbawalla, Tata Group – Indian Leadership, DBOI Global Services Pvt. Ltd. –The German Expat experience of  working and living in India and the most fun lecture – Intercultural Understanding with performances by Indian students studying German followed by a Indian “Dress-Up” & Mehendi session. The Mumbai Marathon, where two students spontaneously participated, the Mumbai Sightseeing Tour and the trip to Elephanta were some of the cultural highlights.

“I am really thankful for the chance to join the programme. I have learnt a lot about culture, people and business in India” – Vanessa Scheck, Härter Stanztechnik

“Especially nice was the Indian hospitality and the willingness of the IGTC students to spend their free time doing activities with us” – Annika Felhauer, KIT Karlsruhe

I had a great time in India. I really, really want to come back . The programme was very interesting. A perfect mix of Indian cultural and company visits. – Nico Bartelt, SEW Eurodrive

The programme for the DHBW was not only about “fun& living the experience” but it also entailed an element of serious study-material. The students were split into groups of fives and in order to receive their participation certificate, had to give presentations in English which were graded. These grades are a part of their final grades of their course back in Germany. Their  research and gathering of information/ inputs had to be done onsite ie.  based on the programme agenda. The topics were as follows:

  • Brand and Origin as selling points (USP) in India and recommendations for foreign suppliers
  • Challenges for foreign companies in India recruiting and retaining personnel
  • Logistic systems in India – best practice and suggestions for German companies
  • Particularities of distribution channels in India as market entry barriers for German companies
  • Influence of faith and religion on corporate governance (management) and everyday working life

But as the famous saying goes “ All is well, that ends well”, and such was the scene at the end of the programme. Each one of them aced their presentation held under the watchful eyes of Mr. Steinruecke, Director General, IGCC, Radhieka R Mehta, Director IGTC, the two DHBW faculty members and most importantly the IGTC students! Thereafter it was all about fun & frolic at IGTC  as the IGTC students introduced them to Bollywood dance moves and  the DHBW delegates in return sang some classical German Christmas Carols and latest German Pop song and distributed German Christmas delicacies around

The programme was very good. I really enjoyed it and my impression about India changed completely. It was really a great experience and I recommend it to everybody a the DHBW! – Luisa Bell, TI Automotive

This one sheet is not enough space to express all the things I liked and should say. So let me just point out that it as a tremendous trip – a completely new experience! I guess I will come back to India! – Tim Lewender, H. Vollmer GMbH ab 1.10. Gienger KG